Remembering And Forgetting
Text: 1 Chronicles 16:11-12, 15; Philippians 3:13-14
Sing It Out Or Let It Go?
Whether you’re the New Years Resolutions type or not, the end of one year and the start of another is an appropriate time for reflection. But not everything is worth remembering. In fact, that Bible teaches us that there are certain things we should actually choose to forget. So what’s what?
Start by making a list of memories: What were the best and worst things that happened to you over the past year? What were the highs and lows? So you’re not hampered by recency bias, go back to the very beginning of last year and skim through things like your calendar, your emails, and your photos. Include both personal, private experiences and the experiences of public groups that you were a part of. Consider specific categories of your life like spirituality, vocation, relationships, travel, etc.
Now that you have your list, what should you remember and what should you forget?
In Psalm 45:17, the writer says, “I will cause your name to be remembered in all generations; therefore nations will praise you forever and ever.”
In 1 Chronicles 16:11-12 and 15, King David instructs the people of God, “Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually! Remember the wondrous works that he has done, his miracles and the judgments he uttered. Remember his covenant forever, the word that he commanded, for a thousand generations.”
These verses teach us to remember at least 4 things:
- The names of God.
- The works of God.
- The commandments of God.
- The promises of God.
On the flipside of remembering, Philippians 3:13-14 teaches us to forget everything that takes our focus off of Christ and puts it on self. For example, you might be inclined to take credit for something good in your life over the past year, and you might boast in your performance, your decision making, or your righteousness. Or you might do the exact opposite, groveling in guilt and shame over some sin or brokenness manifested in your life over the past year. Either way – good or bad – your tendency may be to build your identity on something that pulls your heart away from God.
So here’s a simple key principle to keep in mind: Remember and rehearse everything that magnifies God and the Gospel; forget everything that does the opposite.
Let’s practice this real quick:
Look again at the 4 categories of remembering above and apply them to your list of memories. How did God work in your life over the past year to show you these things? What specific names, works, commandments, or promises were particularly meaningful to you? Which came to mind over and over again? Which were the most comforting, the most convicting, the most helpful, the most encouraging, and so on? [Even if these things didn’t come to mind over the course of the year, you can still answer this: Which names, works, commandments, and promises might God be working deeper into your faith based on the providential paths your life took over this past year?]
Now, what would it sound like for you to praise and adore God in light of these memories? How can you turn these reflections into prayers and songs of worship? How can you shift your focus from yourself to the God who is working all things together for your good?